Mary-Ann Owens and Associates

Resilience Blog

Reaching your goals with Grit

10 Ways to Enhance Your Career Resilience

10 Ways to Enhance Your Career Resilience

Learn: When you develop the habits of a continuous learner you stay up to date with newer trends and improve yourself. Learning helps you keep up with change. When you take online courses or attend industry events you become aware of developments in your field. Learning enables you to take charge of your knowledge levels and development and helps you feel confident about your abilities. If you don’t know what to learn, find something relevant to your work that interests you. Even your viewpoint can change when you learn something new, as you understand yourself and others’ reasoning better.

Own your career: Taking charge of your career enables self-reliance, agency, and autonomy. Self-reliant workers are able to reinvent themselves in order to keep pace with change. Employers expect adult-to-adult relationships at work, where the worker adds value and doesn’t passively wait for direction. Taking charge of your development, committing to personal excellence, and thinking like an entrepreneur all enable you to own your career and chart your own path. Being clear about how you add value and what you are being paid for, enables self-reliance and contribution. Looking for new ways to add value increases your career longevity.

Know and develop your strengths: Knowing, understanding, and developing your strengths enhances your strengths and maximizes your impact. You can promote and get others to utilize your strengths if you know what you are good at. There are robust ways to discover your unique strengths, abilities, and ways of thinking by talking with your manager, mentors, team members, or a career coach. Concentrating and developing your strengths brings a sense of fulfillment and confidence.

Vision: When you focus on and visualize the future, you can incorporate your most important priorities and values into an ideal scenario for your future plans. Planning and seeing yourself where you want to be in a few years can also help you identify stepping stones to get there. As we encounter challenges along the way holding onto your vision creates positive tension which helps you move in the direction of your goals.

Purpose: Determining and living purposely gives you a sense of what is most important and meaningful in your life. When you have a longer-term purpose you are able to keep adversity and crisis in perspective and ride the waves that they bring. Your purpose can be your guide, your north star that helps you determine where you want to keep heading. Using your talents for a greater purpose also gives you meaning in life and work.

Network: Cultivating personal and professional relationships will help you stay informed about changes and opportunities in your industry. Having a robust network can even buffer you from adverse career events. Giving first nurtures your existing network and helps you establish new connections over time. Joining groups and attending events as a contributing participant can help extend your circle. Look for ways to support friends, colleagues, and even casual business acquaintances. Your network will then be there to accept, support, and inspire you when you need help. A tip for starting a networking relationship is to find commonalities between you and others. Then you can build on these similarities over time.

Positivity/optimism: Be sensitive to the learning that encountering challenging obstacles can offer, these can reveal a bigger picture that requires resolution through innovative ideas, leading to increased optimism. For example, layoffs can be opportunities for upgrading your skills, getting a better job, or working in a growing industry. When you direct your attention to moving things forward, you enhance your personal resilience. Savoring the good and focusing on what you have done well can also support your mood, even in adverse times. Spending time focusing on what is going right, and what you and others have done well, can quickly benefit you.  

Take risks: The envelope that you think defines the limits of your ability is your “edge”. This is often a self-imposed boundary because your capabilities can almost always be stretched. Getting out of your comfort zone enables new energies to come from within you. Going to your edge and challenging yourself can also prevent boredom and staleness in your career. You can learn new behavior and skills when you are at or beyond your edge. For example, asking for feedback can seem risky, but it helps to know what others feel is important. The feedback can help reveal pathways to success that you might not otherwise be aware of.  

Handle failure and rejection: People who are able to put themselves out, both succeed and fail more. If you are not afraid to try things and fail at times, you can’t iteratively learn from the experience. Failure happens to everyone, it is what you do after the failed activity that makes a difference. If you look for the silver lining in adverse situations, the opportunities, the learnings, and the lessons will support your momentum and future decisions. Like sales, the job search is ripe with rejection and failure. If you expect some rejection it might not be so hard to experience. Sometimes no matter what you say and do, you can’t control the outcome. You can control your thoughts and where you choose to focus them. J.K Rowling was rejected by 12 major publishers; thank goodness she didn’t let the rejection stop her. A good way to look at this is to prepare for failure to experience success.

Self-care: It is important to keep your balance by doing things to look after yourself. When you take breaks from work you support your fitness, health, and energy levels. Spending time getting in shape physically, emotionally, and spiritually recharges you. Exercising, eating healthy food, staying away from intoxicants, having a good night’s sleep, spending time with supportive others or in nature, and doing leisure activities are a few self-care activities that can bring balance and renewal to your work and life.

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Focus on the Good

Focus on the Good

A survival mechanism that we are all pretty good at is to intensely focus on what went wrong in our day. This is important to do so that we avoid dangerous situations and don’t repeat mistakes that we have made.

Remembering the positive or good things that happen gives us a needed lift when times are difficult. The world needs to remember the good right now, because we are in trying times.

Martin Seligman in his book Flourish outlines an exercise for doing just that. It goes like this; at the end of your day ask yourself what 3 things went well today? Then ask yourself why these things went well? Most likely it is because you utilized one of your strengths, someone around you came through with support, you noticed something beautiful because you were in the moment, or some other positive awareness.

Some days when I do this exercise it takes quite a bit of time to remember the good. I find though that as I give this exercise time and practice, it works its magic on me. I often notice more than 3 things that went well and start looking for the good throughout the day. It’s a gift that brightens and lightens my day.

I have mentioned this exercise in other blog posts, but given these difficult times felt we needed a reminder.  

The video link below outlines an additional method that can bring levity to your day; how to create a joy kit.

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Making the Most of the Lockdown

Making the Most of the Lockdown

Some people during covid19 lockdowns have been utilizing their time to do something to enhance their lives or work. Things like working out, eating healthier, reading, cleaning up their space, or cooking new recipes, etc.

Often working with adversity or blocks can ultimately benefit you. What strength could working through and with the lockdown unlock within you?

If you can turn the block or difficulty into a strength or launching pad for growth, awareness or use it as an education of sorts you could ultimately benefit from this time. Can you turn the lockdown into an advantage, or an opportunity to gain traction?

What is defeat? Nothing but education, nothing but the first step to something better. Wendell Phillips

For example, noticing when you do well during the day and when you fail. You can practice the failed behavior and by practicing reverse the negative tendency. Using adversity or blocks to practice can instill you with new skills.

If you are able to breakdown the adversity and analyze it thoroughly opportunities may open up for you. If we breakdown adversity such as the lockdown into what you can and can’t do, you may get some new ideas to pursue.

Can Do  During Lockdown                                         Can’t Do During Lockdown

Research on the computer, phone, zoom                     Research in person          

Anything at home                                                          Travel, use of public venues                                       

Visits outside with friends and family                             Visits and meetings with others inside

Self-care, spiritual practices                                          Group classes

Work from home                                                            Work in the service industry

Etc.                                                                                 Etc.

Perception can help us not take things personally. I know working with people who were laid off that people would often take it very personally, and their self-esteem took a hit. Often though the whole industry they were working in was in a downturn and it wasn’t a personal thing. For example, the service industry has been severely impacted by lockdowns. If the client was able to realize the whole industry was suffering and it wasn’t personal their self-esteem wouldn’t take such a hit. Many, many people are struggling immensely with lockdowns, finances, and the lack of social support, you are not alone.

We are being immersed in the experience of being in a lockdown. What can we take away from and learn from this adverse experience? We are all in an apprenticeship of being in a lockdown at the moment. If we could see the opportunity or the good in the difficulty we may be able to turn the disaster into some learnings or strengths.

What can we control in a lockdown or any difficult experience? Our learning, our thoughts, our focus, and what we do with our spare time.

If we can free ourselves from distractions, disturbances, and negative emotions, we could focus on what we can do. If we can focus our energy on something that will be useful to us we can get some personal traction. We often forget that we have the power to make a positive impact. If we can focus on the gains and goals more than the adversity, the goal will prevail.

Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Shakespeare

Our worries, anxieties though can take our focus off of areas where we can gain traction. The whole world is in lockdown, which is very unusual and the news reflects this very difficult situation. Many people recommend we limit our focus on the news.

Do you have a process or structure that you can count on and will ensure you aren’t distracted by negative or worrisome emotions? Some people may turn to a friend or family member to talk, walk in nature, journal, draw, play music, or exercise. What are the positive things you immerse yourself in that enable you to let go of negative emotions?

You are a worthy opponent of every challenge that comes your way. May you get the most out of this lockdown and any other experience you go through.

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Your focus can help you climb up and out of a problem

Your focus can help you climb up and out of a problem

I listened to a woman this week talk about a difficult experience she went through. Her daughter was doing some volunteer work in South America and a boulder came down from a mountainside and randomly hit her.

After the mother’s initial shock and horror at hearing very difficult news about her daughter, she was able to dig deep within herself and find some positive things to support herself. She realized that her daughter had lived an amazing life, even if she didn’t survive this situation. Making positive meaning out of her daughter’s life enabled this mother to cope with a very difficult situation with more centeredness and capability, which enabled a more positive result for her daughter.

Is there a way to visualize something positive from your adverse experience that you can build on? What if anything can you control in this situation? Can you look for the opportunity or positive side of the adversity? What story could you tell yourself that would enable you to get your power or meaning back? Are you focusing on the darkness within or the light at the end of the tunnel?

The light can support you, the darkness may not. It may be important to support yourself by telling yourself hopeful and positive stories.

By digging deep and asking yourself these questions you may be able to find threads of hopefulness and positivity that you can build on. These threads could support you to positively cope with the adversity, leading to more coping, and your ability to climb up and out of a problem.


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Will Stewart took the accompanying picture.

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Expressing Gratitude for Mother Earth

Expressing Gratitude for Mother Earth

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

Gratitude expands our ability to feel good and can even positively affect our health. So with this in mind, I wanted to write about being grateful for what nature provides.

If we look more deeply at how the earth supports us we can be pleasantly surprised.

I am grateful for the park near my house. The trees there help turn carbon dioxide into oxygen for us to breathe. I am grateful for the earth that holds me in place. I am grateful for the moisture in the clouds that falls down as rain and snow. We need this water to sustain us.

We need to teach people to go into their backyards, that real healing is all around us. Margi Flint

I am realizing the floors that my feet are on in my house are oak. The oak tree gave its life so I could have a nice floor to walk on. The wooden joints in the walls are also made from trees. The ceramic tiles in my kitchen are made of earth.

My car is made from metal, given to me via the earth. My wedding ring is metal and the diamond is from a Canadian mine. So many things around me have come from mother earth.

What are you grateful for that Mother Nature has provided?

I am wondering how I can properly express my gratitude.

How can I thank the trees, the clouds, and the earth for the gifts given?

When we treat the earth with respect reverence and wonder, we honor nature.

  • Every time we recycle something we are honoring the earth.
  • When we live minimally with a light footprint we honor the earth and its natural systems.
  • When we walk, bike, or take public transit we have minimal impact on the environment.
  • If we put solar panels on our homes we create energy and pollute the atmosphere less.

So thank you mother nature our hostess and home…

May we be grateful for all you have given…

May we walk lightly…

May we be healed and whole knowing all that we have to behold….


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Flexing like a Willow Tree will Help us Thrive

Flexing like a Willow Tree will Help us Thrive

The willow tree realized that her ability to survive was due to her flexibility and adaptability as she was able to bend with the wind to weather the storm (from the fable of the willow and oak tree).

Are we able to flex with the current circumstances? I watched a T.V. show the other night called Restaurants Impossible. Disclaimer: I love watching programs on transformation. They were helping a restaurant to deal with the changes due to covid 19 restrictions. The restaurant also had a prior reputation for being unclean. One might think this was a nightmare. The advantage the restaurant owners had is that they made delicious food. They readily made changes with the support of a restaurant consultant to start making takeout meals, build a website, and advertise the takeout to diners coming to the restaurant and on a local radio station. They also showed a current “A” rating of cleanliness on their website and stated what improvements to cleaning goes on currently. The restaurant became viable again; the takeout food now provides 40 percent of their income. They had support with some great ideas and the energy to flex and adapt. They were able to stay afloat in this difficult atmosphere.

It represents a good lesson in being adaptable to what is happening in our environment. What is the environment telling us? People are restricted, so what is changing that impacts our careers? The black lives matter and me two movements are also occurring, how are they impacting workplaces?

Some trends include more

  • online activity,
  • technology,
  • take-out,
  • convenience foods,
  • in-home cooking,
  • isolation,
  • need for support,
  • being and feeling housebound,
  • time,
  • simplification of life for some,
  • complication due to looking after children at home,
  • people and families being outside,
  • more telephone conversations and zoom instead of face to face,
  • remote work,
  • ability to work from any location,
  • data collection,
  • artificial intelligence,
  • skills needed for competitive advantage,
  • inclusiveness,
  • designing roles for resilience,
  • complexity of organizational management due to employees in multiple locations,
  • and use of a contingent workforce.

If you are an entrepreneur being flexible to these changes can help your business survive. If you are working for an organization assisting them with flexing to these changes can ensure you are adding value in your workplace and therefore making you employable through change and time.

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Reframing the Current Situation Looking for Opportunities

 Reframing the Current Situation Looking for Opportunities

Many people are experiencing difficulty in their careers due to the lockdowns and isolation required of us during the pandemic. Some businesses are closing because of the restrictions on people’s behaviors and movements.

What if we reframed the circumstances we are having right now, focusing on making the most of our time and efforts?

Reframing is when we change and deepen the current assumptions we hold and place another frame that fits the facts of the situation better, thereby changing the meaning of the situation. Reframing within career planning is often used to help a person come to terms with a change or help them enhance their progress. It is used to create an understanding of the situation and motivation. Reframing helps create a different perception in situations where things aren’t working and we feel stuck.

Some questions we can ask:

What career opportunities currently exist due to trends?

How could you make the most of quiet and time due to self-isolation to make advances in your career or field right now?

What opportunities are open to you right now for learning important skills that are needed currently and will be needed in the future?

If you were to use your time to deepen your work, based on your current motivation and trends, what could you do?

How will you need to utilize your time and energy in different and new ways to benefit yourself the most?

A few career trends include:


Diversity and Inclusion Specialist

Information Security

Data Scientist

Artificial Intelligence

Cloud Technology

Genetic Engineer

Smart Home Technologist

End of Life Manager

Organizational Disruptor

Links to current career trends:

Job Opportunities Through the 2020s

Best Careers for the Future

Three Career Trends for 2020 and Beyond

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10 Benefits of Journaling

10 Benefits of Journaling

The benefits of journaling are many. The list below contains some of the ways journaling can support you. You might want to give journaling a try if this information appeals to you.   

  1. Enhancing your focus and clarity

Taking time to journal can help you focus and bring clarity to your thinking. The mind is often full of thoughts, looping, and spinning. In contrast, it can be still and calm. Journaling can assist you in emptying thoughts thereby calming and slowing the brain. When we rid the brain of some of its contents it can work more optimally, increasing focusing.

By not returning to the same loops the brain can work more effectively, making more progress. The result can include clearer and organized thoughts that help our work and lives.

  1. Reducing your stress

When we write out our thoughts, expressing our emotions, we help to relieve the stress we are experiencing. When we write both down the good and bad experiences of our day, we can highlight the positive and purge the difficult. We can lighten the load both mentally and physically. I’m sure you have heard the term the mind-body connection. We can unleash tension from both the mind and body by journaling and feel the resulting relaxation. Journaling for just 15 minutes a day can thereby lower stress levels.

  1. Enhancing your career

Your private journaling aids in many ways listed in this blog, but writing can also add value to your career. When you write you often uncover themes and new ideas that can assist your work. Some people write blogs, workbooks, and/or books that enhance their careers. When fresh ideas are organized into a format and published they can add value to your work and inform others who may be interested in utilizing your services and products.

  1. Recovering your center and objectivity

Journaling can be a springboard for daily recovery. When we get difficult thoughts out on paper we can recover our ability to be present and centered recovering from these challenges. We can vent on paper when we journal which can give us a quick release of pent up thoughts and feelings. We can also recover objectivity from these experiences and get on with making progress in our life and work.

  1. Integrating your learning

Writing things down enhances your ability to retain information. The act of notation enhances your thoughts and memories associated while reading. Taking notes while listening to talks, podcasts or audio-books also helps you retain the knowledge you have heard. Writing helps you prioritize and separate important from insignificant information. Your memory can then target and integrate the salient information.

  1. Increasing your emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is being able to identify our emotions and regulate them. Journaling can help you with both of these processes. When we identify what we are feeling in our journal the left brain can calm the right brain down. This is often a welcome experience, providing both understanding and information about what can be done about what we have found next.

Empathy, one part of emotional intelligence, is the act of understanding the emotions others are feeling. When we empathize we can relate to and support others through their experiences and problems. Being on the same page with others helps us to connect with others more thoroughly and deeply.

  1. Enhancing your creativity

Julie Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way promotes something she calls “morning pages”. For 10 minutes or more per day, she says to write whatever comes to mind, your stream of consciousness.

When we let our thoughts come to the surface unobstructed new ideas come to mind that can surprise and enhance your work and life. These ideas that flow enable us to create from the inside out. We are often recipients of external information through social media, google, and the internet; however the definition of creativity is letting ideas come forth. When we journal information that is within us comes to the surface and can enhance our process, work, and life.

  1. Finding meaning and priorities

Information that comes from journaling can provide insight as to what is most meaningful or important to you. You may not have realized how much you value the environment or how much watching daily news agitates you. Journaling can release themes like this. What you value and care about can make its way to the front and center of your life informing, guiding, and directing you. You can look over your writing watching for information that points to needed change in activities and priorities you may want to pursue.

  1. Increasing your self-confidence

Journaling about positive experiences helps you internalize your skills and accomplishments. Martin Seligman in his book Flourish outlines an interesting exercise. He says to write down three things that went well today and ask yourself why these experiences went well. Carrying out this exercise can boost your confidence levels by making you aware of your strengths and accomplishments. It can also help you to realize the skills and strengths of the supportive people you have around you.

  1. Solving your problems

Through the process of journaling, you can often find solutions to your problems. By spending time writing about a block or a goal you can find clues and subtleties about the situation that can enlighten and inform your progress. This food for thought and additional nuance can light your way on the path to your solution. Sometimes we need to look at the context, the environment, or content, details, of a situation to make headway. Writing about a goal or problem can help you round out the information needed to assist you on your way to solving your specific problem.

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Dealing with Adversity and Difficulty

Dealing with Adversity and Difficulty

Looking at the Problem

When we look directly at a problem we can accept it more readily. People often spend so much effort and time denying their problems that they lose a lot of energy spinning their wheels. This effort instead could be used to overcome their problems.

Identify what you are feeling and thinking about the adversity/problem. When we identify what we are feeling, our left brain, the rational side, helps us calm our feelings down and we can start to act on and do something about those feelings. Journaling is a way to identify your thoughts and feelings and manage difficult situations well. I remember when I was completing my Ph.D. when I was writing my literature review one semester I was also required to keep a journal. The process of journaling revealed topic areas of interest and my thoughts and feelings over this period. It was a very effective way of managing myself throughout the semester.

Leaning into the Problem

Stepping into the issue and finding out more about it can inform you about how to deal with it more effectively. Learning more about an issue will assist you in coping with it quicker and more thoroughly. When you have a problem determine how and what you could do to learn more about the problem.

The best way out is always through….Robert Frost.

If you know people who are skilled in dealing with your situation or problem you could ask them for help or if you have the means pay them to support you through it.

Reframing the Problem

Reframing is a way of changing the way you look at adversity and, thus, changing your response to the experience. For instance, if you reframed an adverse situation you could ask yourself, “What is the gift in this experience?” This question could open up the situation and allow you to see new possibilities. When we reframe an experience we can keep the momentum going, giving us opportunities to lower stress, enhance our development, and shift the meaning in situations where we were previously stuck.

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What This Blog is About

What This Blog is About

Welcome to The Resilience Blog.

The topics in this blog help you be more resilient in your career and as a leader. I write about ways to gain momentum and positively move through blocks that get in the way of your goals. I post articles on the blog about once a week. 

When I did my research study for my Ph.D., I got to conduct interviews with a number of successful and admired leaders. What fascinated me about them was how resilient they were. They had grown into leaders who could make things happen by demonstrating their resilience, confidence, and adaptive behaviours. I will teach you how to use and apply these resilient behaviours in your leadership and career leading to new levels of success. 

I am completing a book on Career Grit, which will include content and themes that will appear in the blog. If you have a story about overcoming challenges and becoming increasingly resilient in the process, I would love hearing about it. 

I am passionate about these career related topics:

  • methods to positively connect with others,
  • ways to lean into feedback,
  • reframing negative experiences,
  • making progress on your goals,
  • methods to enhance your positive impact, and
  • meeting challenges.

In the leadership area I enjoy focusing on: 

  • creating a safe environment, 
  • being more positive in your self-management and with your team,
  • raising your self-awareness,
  • bringing safety along with you wherever you go,
  • being able to have tough conversations when needed,
  • building trust, and 
  • ensuring your team performs. 

I hope you sign up for the blog soon and that you and your team apply these resilient behaviours thereby increasing your success.

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